Gordon Says ‘Conservatism’ Key In Wyoming’s Fight Over Climate Change

In his message to open the 40th annual Governor’s Business Forum on Tuesday, Gov. Gordon said he believes that traditional “conservatism,” like growing the economy and embracing new technologies, is key in Wyoming’s fight over climate change.

Leo Wolfson

November 14, 20234 min read

Gov. Mark Gordon speaks at Tuesday's 40th annual Governor's Business Forum in Laramie.
Gov. Mark Gordon speaks at Tuesday's 40th annual Governor's Business Forum in Laramie. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Gov. Mark Gordon says Wyoming needs to fight climate concerns with traditional conservatism and economic expansion, not stagnation.

In his message to open the 40th annual Governor’s Business Forum on Tuesday, Gordon said America has entered a state of economic “doldrums” because of political partisanship, fractionalization and a loss of focus on what needs to be done to move the country forward.

Gordon said there’s a struggle between conservatism and populism, and that traditional conservatism is the true American way. He believes the country is getting distracted by noise instead of solving problems.

The rise of populist conservative movements in America, such as the Tea Party and MAGA following that spurred by former President Donald Trump, have contributed to that distraction.

“It’s mine, I want to keep it for myself,” Gordon said of the mindset of populist movements. “If we’re going to do really well as a nation, we need to come together to understand we all do better when we make sure we leave this place just a little bit better for our time here.”

He shared a story from his childhood of being chastised by his father for neglecting to give their chickens water because he was distracted by a project that would’ve theoretically made this job easier.

“Conservatism is about what my parents made sure that I heard,” Gordon said. “It is about making this place a little better, about doing the best you can with what you have where you have.”

Climate Change

As he has consistently done throughout his time as governor, Gordon touted his “all-of-the-above” energy policy, and said Wyoming understands the value of balancing use of natural resources with conservation.

Gordon said Wyoming is particularly well positioned within the energy sector because of its natural resources and ongoing dedication to green energy as well as traditional fossil fuels like oil and coal.

“These are things that are going to be used to power our future where electricity becomes ever more important,” Gordon said.

In recent weeks, Gordon has caught heat from some Republicans for saying the state is dedicated to fighting climate change and becoming “carbon negative.” Last week, state Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle, 29 other state legislators and Secretary of State Chuck Gray signed a letter inviting Gordon to debate climate change and the merits of his “carbon negative” policy.

Although a spokesperson for Gordon said he would be open to the forum, Steinmetz said Gordon hasn’t directly responded to the request, which he has until Friday to do.

Gordon said many groups concerned about climate change are only focused on banning fossil fuels while ignoring solutions that retain these industries such as carbon capture and storage.

“They don’t pay tribute to the fact that right here in Wyoming we are doing more to address that issue than shutting off all of our legacy industries,” he said.

Not A Crisis

On Tuesday, Gordon also made the assertion that more people freeze than die from heat exhaustion. According to Statista.com, in 2022, 148 people died from extreme heat and 22 people died due to extreme cold in the United States.

But in Wyoming, those numbers are starkly different despite there being a much smaller statistical group. According to the Wyoming Department of Health, more people have died from the cold rather than heat every year dating back to 2010.

“We can provide that heat and we can do it in a way that is innovative and responsible and provides incredible opportunities for this institution and others to go forward,” he said.

Gordon said neither the United States nor Wyoming is in a crisis about how it will address climate change moving forward.

“Our ability to advance and move into a future that is responsible and has tremendous opportunity has never been greater or more focused than it has been right here in Wyoming,” he said.

A variety of polls show that climate change has become a key concern many people, but a 2023 Ipsos Earth Day poll found that a significant share of respondents in developed and developing economies believe “their country is being asked to sacrifice too much to tackle climate change.”

Gordon also sees Wyoming as a home for business relocation, citing new industries that have moved to the state for high-end hunting equipment, medical equipment and cryptocurrency, and said the state has the most friendly business regulations in the nation.

“We need to make strategic investments to make sure that the business sector grows and expands,” he said. “Here, the issue is not regulation, the issue is innovation.”

Leo Wolfson can be reached at leo@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter